Samuel Fury Childs Daly

Scholar in History, United States

Samuel Fury Childs Daly is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, History, and International Comparative Studies at Duke University. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and master’s degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of Cambridge. He is the author of A History of the Republic of Biafra: Law, Crime, and the Nigerian Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which examines the relationship between warfare and everyday crime in postcolonial Africa’s first major conflict. Violence and deception were tools of survival on the battlefield, but when the war ended veterans and civilians discovered that they were also useful in surviving the peace. His current research is a comparative history of military deserters. This project is grounded in the African past, but it is global in scope.  

Archives in Nigeria, 2020 © Samuel Fury Childs Daly

The Good Soldier: A Global History of Desertion

What makes soldiers abandon the battlefield? And what do they do after they run away? The Good Soldier examines military desertion over the last two centuries, narrating the lives of men and women who declined to fight in wars large and small. Starting from the premise that desertion is not always an expression of fear, the book considers how abandoning the battlefield can be a politically generative act; deserters have founded communities, made new solidarities, and retooled ideas about honor and valor. As much as they are running away, deserters also run towards something. The Good Soldier follows their journeys.